National award for North Yorkshire school chef

A school chef whose pioneering recipes have improved meals for thousands of pupils across North Yorkshire has added more silverware to her bulging trophy cabinet.

North Yorkshire Council’s training and development officer, Katherine Breckon, fought off fierce competition to win the title of Chef of the Year 2024 at the Public Sector Catering Awards, which were held at the London Hilton Metropole yesterday evening.

The event, which recognises outstanding achievement among individuals, teams, companies and organisations operating within a public sector environment, was attended by more than 600 people from the catering industry.

Mrs Breckon is no stranger to winning awards for her cooking skills. Earlier this year she won the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) Excellence in School Food Award for best individual. The mother-of-two is a key member of NYES Catering providing healthy, tasty and nutritious meals to more than half of the schools in North Yorkshire, with the aim of bringing enjoyment to school lunchtimes with local, fresh, great quality food being at the heart of everything she does.

She develops meals and menus in-line with food trends and food standards, always looking at opportunities to create tasty meals, while reducing food waste and recipe costs. An overhaul of school meals recipes has been one of Mrs Breckon’s latest projects.

Mrs Breckon joined the council’s catering service 15 years ago having previously worked as a school cook at West Cliff Primary in Whitby. Speaking of her latest win, the Whitby resident, said: “I still cannot believe I won!

“I was up against four other nominees from the public sector, which included defence, private schools and the care sector. To be even shortlisted amongst such incredible chefs is a huge achievement, to win is totally surreal!”

She added: “I can honestly say from the standing ovation I received in the room, to the congratulations from colleagues across the public sector, it still hasn’t sunk in that I won the prestigious title.

“This proves what a great service we provide as we all work together as a team. I certainly could not do everything I do without the support or encouragement from my colleagues at North Yorkshire Council.”

The council’s corporate director of resources, Gary Fielding, said: “This is another great achievement for our service, a well-deserved award for Kath, competing not only against education catering but from all areas of the public sector.

“Kath is a truly dedicated member of our team, I’m so proud of her and for all that she brings to North Yorkshire Council.”

Public Sector Catering editor, David Foad, added: “It was a terrific awards night, a genuine celebration of the best in an industry that does such a fantastic job behind the scenes.

“My congratulations go to all winners, with thanks to everyone who was nominated for making our judges work so hard over difficult decisions this year.”